For many, Roy Lichtenstein is the “comic book guy”, or the “dot guy”. While his 1960s pop art ranks as some of his best work, a major show coming to Tate Modern next year aims to show the artist was much more than that.
The gallery is staging the most comprehensive Lichtenstein show ever, with 125 of his paintings and sculptures as well as rarely seen drawings from a career that spanned more than 50 years.
“Lichtenstein should be evaluated for more than the works he is already known for,” said the show’s co-curator Sheena Wagstaff, and while there will be many examples of his cartoon and comic-strip pop art, visitors might be surprised at his early abstract expressionist paintings – “almost Twombly-esque”, said Wagstaff – or his later art nouveau-inspired sculptures or works such as his version of the Laocoön from 1988. “It is a tour de force, an enormous canvas which will dominate one of the galleries in London.”
That will not be the only vast painting. Interior with Waterlilies, painted in 1991, is more than four metres wide and about three metres high.
Wagstaff, formerly of Tate Modern and now in charge of modern and contemporary art at the Met in New York, said preparing the show had been tricky – “it was not an easy gathering experience, I have to say” – because many Lichtenstein owners love and live with the works in a really intimate way. Two paintings in the show normally hang in the owners’ bedrooms.
Roy Lichtenstein show at Tate Modern aims to show pop artist’s hidden side | Art and design | The Guardian